Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun PSP (ISʘIS)

First 10 Orbits of our Energetic Sun

A mission success figure displaying high and low energy energetic particle intensities encoded by orbital location, color, and sound.

ISOIS successful 10 orbits gif
First 10 Orbits of our Energetic Sun
Parker Solar Probe Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISʘIS)  
Ⓒ David McComas, Jamie Rankin, Mitchell Shen, and Jamey Szalay on behalf of the entire ISʘIS team


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First Results

In just its first two orbits, Parker Solar Probe has traveled in nearly twice as close to the sun as any prior spacecraft, and we have already seen a variety of energetic particle events. ISʘIS discovered that these events can be tiny – much smaller than we’re able to see from Earth's orbit. It suggests that there may be a spectrum of these particle events, down to very tiny sizes, that are constantly feeding material into the inner solar system. These events provide seed particles that ultimately can be energized into higher and higher energetic particles and is one important new result that we’re already seeing from Parker Solar Probe. See our press release and first results paper for more details.


Energetic Particle Event
Top: On Nov. 17, 2018, the 321st day of that year, ISʘIS observed a burst of high-energy protons, each with more than 1 million electron-volts of energy. The warmer colors (yellow, orange, red) represent an increase in the number of these high-energy particles hitting the ISʘIS sensors. Bottom: An artist’s representation of one of these energetic particle events. Image by Jamey Szalay, David McComas, and Jenny Mottar; Adapted with permission from D.J. McComas et al., Nature 575:7785 (2019)

Instrument Summary

The Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISʘIS) is a complete science investigation on the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) mission, which flies to within nine solar radii of the Sun’s surface. ISʘIS comprises a two-instrument suite to measure energetic particles over a very broad energy range, as well as coordinated management, science operations, data processing, and scientific analysis. Together, ISʘIS observations allow us to explore the mechanisms of energetic particles dynamics, including their: (1) Origins — defining the seed populations and physical conditions necessary for energetic particle acceleration; (2) Acceleration — determining the roles of shocks, reconnection, waves, and turbulence in accelerating energetic particles; and (3) Transport — revealing how energetic particles propagate from the corona out into the heliosphere.

The two ISʘIS Energetic Particle Instruments measure lower (EPI-Lo) and higher (EPI-Hi) energy particles. EPI-Lo measures ions and ion composition from ~20 keV/nucleon–15 MeV total energy and electrons from ∼25–1000 keV. EPI-Hi measures ions from ~1–200 MeV/nucleon and electrons from ~0.5–6 MeV. EPI-Lo comprises 80 tiny apertures with fields-of-view (FOVs) that sample over nearly a complete hemisphere, while EPI-Hi combines three telescopes that together provide five large-FOV apertures. ISʘIS observes continuously inside of 0.25 AU with a high data collection rate and burst data (EPI-Lo) coordinated with the rest of the PSP payload; outside of 0.25 AU, ISʘIS runs in low-rate science mode whenever feasible to capture as complete a record as possible of the solar energetic particle environment and provide calibration and continuity for measurements closer in to the Sun. The ISʘIS Science Operations Center plans and executes commanding, receives and analyzes all ISʘIS data, and coordinates science observations and analyses with the rest of the PSP science investigations. Together, ISʘIS’ unique observations on PSP will enable the discovery, untangling, and understanding of the important physical processes that govern energetic particles in the innermost regions of our heliosphere, for the first time.